There is no wall built around the territory that is going to keep out the new coronavirus that causes COVID-19 illness and it is only a matter of time before the territory sees it first cases said Dr. Tia Hunte, an infectious disease specialist during the Schneider Regional Medical Center hearing on Friday.
“I don’t want to try to promote panic, since the purpose of this is to dispel fear … but it’s not ‘when’ or ‘if.’ We will have cases. This is global. It’s a pandemic and it will come, if it’s not already here undiagnosed. So, the focus should not be on if it is here or did it come from a cruise ship. It should be about how we identify and how we plan to try to have the best public health response,” Hunte said.
Schneider Regional Medical Center Interim CEO Dr. Luis Amaro said the hospital is prepared with six isolation negative pressure rooms, quarantine areas in the emergency room, and have begun to designate an entire wing that can be utilized if necessary.
Facility Management Vice President Darryl Smalls said, “In the fight we see ourselves getting ready to be prepared for we are going to enhance or increase our capacity.” Smalls added that an entire floor that is not currently occupied is being prepared for utilization. Since patients will require their own rooms, it is likely around 10 additional rooms will become available.
Amaro said the hospital does have one person currently under investigation who may have contracted the virus but that does not convey a positive diagnosis.
“I want to turn this into a comfort to the public. You want to be able to see that your hospitals and health agencies have individuals under investigation … because that will allow you to know we are doing our due diligence to investigate and identify individuals that could possibly be positive,” Amaro said.
Along with the due diligence of holding individuals for investigation, Amaro said the hospital’s internal response team is prepared and the staff has been trained. He added the hospital is regularly updating supplier allocations, updating their webpage with critical information, and hosting live webinars.
“We understand that the information on COVID-19 can be overwhelming and perhaps scary. However, it is important to keep in mind that the majority of COVID-19 cases are not severe and only a small percentage of patients will require hospitalization and the majority of patients will be able to recover at home,” Amaro said.
Two guidelines given by Amaro for residents were as follows:
– If you think you are sick and have a fever, contact the Department of Health first, at 340-712-6299 or 340-776-1519.
– There are new visitor restrictions designating no visitors will be allowed unless accompanying a newly admitted patient. Visitors will also be required to wash hands both before and after leaving rooms in the hospital building.
It was encouraged to by the panel of hospital executives to visit the Department of Health website to see what residents can do to reduce the spread of the virus.
To receive text alerts, residents were asked to message the phrase “COVID19USVI” to 888777, be sure to use capital letters and no spacing between words.